The Blood of Christ
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here,[a] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining[b] eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,[c] so that we may serve the living God!
To better understand how Jesus reconciles us to the Father and sets us free from the guilt of sin.
We are entering a purposeful and exciting season as a community where together we think about what it could look like if we committed ourselves more intentionally to Redeemer’s vision of seeing the gospel planted deeply so as to change our lives and communities. As we move toward this special season (which kicks off with Redeemer Night on February 29), we are going through a series called “the gospel goods” in which we explore what the gospel gives us when it comes into our lives and our communities. Today’s text emphasizes how Jesus reconciles sinful human beings to God through his sacrificial work on the cross. The writer of Hebrews is drawing from the imagery of the Old Testament sacrificial system, specifically the Day of Atonement, the most solemn holy day of all the Israelite ceremonies. Once a year on that day, the high priest was to perform elaborate rituals and sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people. First, he would ceremonially purify himself before entering into the most holy part of the temple, and once there he would offer the prescribed sacrifices to make atonement for the sins of the Israelites. Knowing that the Day of Atonement was familiar to the original readers of the letter, the writer of Hebrews shows how Jesus was the ultimate high priest who came and offered himself up as the final sacrifice for sins. The blood of bulls and goats could not fully redeem sinful people and reconcile them to God. Rather, the sacrificial system pointed ahead to Jesus, whose willing sacrifice would fully satisfy God’s judgment and cleanse the sins of his people. In this passage, we see how God has provided a way for Christians to live at peace with him, cleansed from guilt and regenerated through the Holy Spirit.
The sacrifice that Jesus accomplished on the cross was “once for all” (Hebrews 9:12), meaning that God’s punishment was completely satisfied for all eternity by Jesus’ blood. What relational benefits do Christians enjoy between themselves and God when they live in light of this new reality?
In verse 13, the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that one must be more than just externally clean to enter into God’s presence. How do modern people use either religion or non-religion to focus on external acceptance without addressing internal realities? What does Jesus’ sacrifice reveal about the status of our human condition?
Hebrews 9:14 speaks of how the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses a Christian’s conscience from the guilt that accompanies sin. Brené Brown, a contemporary writer/speaker on the subject of vulnerability writes, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.”1 How can Christ’s loving sacrifice allow a person to be set free from the shame and guilt of sin and to feel his invitation to belong?
How does being reconciled and at peace with God allow us to freely serve him out of love and not from a place of obligation (Hebrews 9:14b)? How would our lives be different if this truth more deeply penetrated our hearts?
Go back over the passage and prayerfully reflect on it before God. What did you find encouraging or convicting? Are there new ways of acting or thinking to which God is calling you? Talk to God about it. Ask him for grace to believe the truth and to live in light of it. After this period of silence, spend a short time as a group thanking God for the things he has taught you in this lesson before moving on to sharing and prayer.